Tributes for lawyer 'devoted to peace process'
Seamus Mallon, the former SDLP deputy leader and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, has led tributes from across the legal, media and political spheres to barrister Stephen McCann.
The popular criminal law barrister (46), who, as a young man, canvassed for Mr Mallon, died suddenly late last week at his Dublin home.
Mr McCann was one of a handful of lawyers who pioneered a series of cases in the late 1990s challenging the State's provisions for children in care.
Last night, Mr Mallon said Mr McCann was a person of tremendous character and ability who "knew the value of life and knew the value of peace".
"His sudden death is something which should make us all remember a person of great integrity and ability," said Mr Mallon, adding that Mr McCann - a prominent member of the SDLP's Dublin group - had an extraordinary power to influence people.
Senior Counsel David Barniville, chairman of the Council of the Bar of Ireland, said barristers are "devastated" by Mr McCann's tragic death.
"Stephen was a fantastic colleague - a hugely popular lawyer with a great sense of humour and sharp wit who excelled in criminal law," said Mr Barniville.
Solicitor James MacGuill, former president of the Law Society, said Mr McCann possessed a fine legal mind which he used to great effect in the many significant legal cases he appeared in.
"Stephen's varied clientele included many who were vulnerable and marginalised, and whose lives were the better for his efforts," said Mr MacGuill.
Senior Counsel Michael O'Higgins said his colleague was "unbelievably kind" and will be missed greatly by the entire legal profession.
Mr McCann is survived by his mother, Deirdre, his brother, Vincent, sisters Eleanor and Elizabeth, nieces, nephews and a wide circle of family and friends. He will be buried today following a funeral Mass at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh.